Business tops the list of the most popular college majors for high school students who will be graduating in 2022 and 2023. That finding comes from recent data collected by Niche, the popular college rating and review platform that also collects evaluative information on k-12 schools and places to live and work.
When students register for a Niche account to conduct their colleges searches, one of the pieces of information that they are asked to provide is their intended major. Niche analyzed those responses from 935,830 students graduating from high school in 2022 or 2023. Responses submitted through January 24, 2022 were included. The new results serve as an update to a prior report on intended college majors.
For the graduating class of 2022, the five highest interest majors were:
- Business (6.93% of responding students)
- Nursing (5.57%)
- Psychology (5.52%)
- Biology (5.34%)
- Medicine/Pre-Medicine (4.00%)
The highest interest majors for the class of 2023 remained the same, but in a different order, with nursing falling from second to fifth and medicine/pre-medicine showing the opposite trend, moving from fifth to second:
- Business (6.57%)
- Medicine/Pre-Medicine (5.99%)
- Psychology (5.36%)
- Biology (5.04%)
- Nursing (3.89%)
Niche’s interactive tool allows users to look at the popularity of majors by gender, race/ethnicity and state. It also combines related majors into “broad areas of interest.”
An inspection of those areas for the class of 2022 high school graduates shows the 10 most popular areas of interest to be:
- Biology, 11.80% of prospective students
- Business and Management, 10.93%
- Nursing, 8.07%
- Engineering, 7.12%
- Psychology, 6.67%
- Computer Science, 4.65%
- Education, 4.49%
- Criminal Justice, 4.01%
- Health Professions, 3.32%
- Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, 2.70%
This information comes at a time when more is being learned about which college majors yield the biggest economic benefits to students and which ones may not pay off financially at all.
Of course, prospective earnings are only one variable influencing students’ choices of major, and a quick review of the Niche data confirms that money is far from the only consideration that students take into account when they think about their future major. A search for meaning, the prospects for fulfillment, and the chance to study what is most personally interesting drive this decision-making to a substantial degree.
Further, it’s essential to keep in mind that while precise figures are not available, it’s estimated that about a third of college students change their initially declared major to some other field while in college. So what students say they want to study as they graduate from high school is very likely to change before they complete college.
Here is a presentation of the full results, which can serve as a useful guide not only to students but to college administrators as they decide whether to add or modify their academic offerings and how best to align capital expenditures, faculty hiring, student recruiting, and student services staffing to capitalize on likely enrollment opportunities.
I asked Will Patch, the author of the report, what he saw as the data’s main takeaway for college leaders. Here’s his answer:
“The major trends are representative of the changing preferences and priorities for students, and there’s a lot we can learn from them. College administrators, take note: if your pillar programs are seeing declines, look for related programs on the rise to reach students who would be a good fit. You should also prepare for 2023 by looking at which majors are hot and making sure your communications and photos are in line with your target students’ interests.”